My Odyssey

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An Illustrated Love Story Wedding Map for a client in South Florida

Life is nothing if not an adventure, right?

I have felt like I have two sides of my world.  The amazing folks who have followed this journey through the bush of Africa and back and are most familiar with me journaling here about my faith journey.  And then there are my friends from this new season who are used to me chatting about creativity and business and entrepreneurship.

Despite my best efforts, I haven’t found solid ways to bring the two of y’all together.  So this weekend I just decided to spruce some things up in this online space and hold cyber house party.

For my new friends from the world of creative entrepreneurship, you may not know I spent 20 years in Asia, Africa and urban America working in faith-based development work.  Some would call it missions.  By my only mission was to love people like I have been loved by God and serve them well.  I was an ordained pastor for 10 of those years, mostly while I was in Africa.  And occasionally I had to pull out my piece of paper to show I was legit for paperwork logistics, but that was about all I ever did with it.

I don’t believe spiritual authority comes from titles or paperwork, but rather from integrity, authenticity and real relationships.

Regardless of where you are in your journey or what you believe, I want you to know that you are welcome here and you are safe.  I’m sure many of you have had experiences around church and Christianity that may have been anything but safe.  I am not here to convince you, convert you or change you.  And I certainly am not here to condemn you.  I just want to put the tea kettle on, invite you to pull up a seat and I want to get to know you in the measure you’d like to be known.

If you hang out here long enough, you’ll find me talking about my faith journey, about healthy spirituality and recovering from spiritual abuse.  About overcoming odds, healing from heartbreak and building community.  You’ll also discover I’m a little bit of a word study nut who loves to dig into what the Bible was really saying back in the day it was penned. You will see me from time to time talking about topics and issues that come up in the cultural system of Christianity.  Some of these may or may not be relevant directly to you, but you are always welcome to join the conversation.

For my friends who have been here longer, you probably have noticed some changes already.  About these.  When I lived in Africa, my primary purpose here was to encourage you and share the lessons we were learning there every day.  Since returning back to America, every part of my life has had dramatic shifts.

I now operate my own creative studio where I work as a creative strategist, brand designer and business educator for creatives, entrepreneurs and nonprofits.  And I design wedding stationery.  I mentor nonprofit & faith-based leaders on both practical and spiritual levels.  I’m working on developing and launching resources to help creatives and organizations be more effective practically.  I’m also recovering from a traumatic brain injury and continue to deal with health complications from my time in Africa and a recent car crash in January.

My primary tribe is no longer limited to the institutional church.  And I love, love, love that. Nothing makes me happier to get to know folks from all faiths and perspectives and cultures. I want to make sure I am sharing here in a way that opens doors for any who might want to read this part of my journey.  Thus, I have made the decision to use the jargon that is peculiar to Christendom as sparingly as possible.

So that’s where this journey is at here.  I am so grateful each of you are here.  And I look forward to see where this adventure will lead.  Know this:  You matter.  Your story matters.  And you are wildly beyond-all-imagining, completely and totally loved.

The Idolatry of Inerrancy

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To live lightly.  To dance as light rays on water and be carried by something, Someone so much bigger than ourselves.  Inspiration.  To breathe in and become in the breathing more of the message we are created to be.  To live inscribed, us on Love’s hands and God’s love on our hearts.

I think sometimes we get consumed by boxes we were never created for.  Boxes of doctrine and stream and affiliation and denomination and theology and words and law and right and wrong and the very boxes He died to free us from, we fight to find our identity in and define our worth by. 

What if the systems we’ve created and define ourselves by, are just boxes we’ve decorated and celebrated and bowed down before?  Even the boxes we’ve created in His name.

Inspiration is like water, like breath… the longer and harder we fight to define it, hold onto it, control it, the more it slips between and escapes through our grasp.  IN • SPIRE Literally to breathe into. Not grab the pen or paintbrush or hands or voice of and force a particular product or outcome. But to breathe in.

Inspiration cannot happen apart from trust.

God trusts us to bring all we are to the process.  We trust Him to receive all that He offers.  And together, He and us, we weave and create something that carries both of us.  It is sacred space this becoming.

The focus is not on a flawless end product, but the dance of maturing relationshipThe ultimate goal is not inerrancy, but intimacy.  Our trust is not in the product of the inspiration, but in the process of deepening interdependence that created it.

There’s no way to say this but to say it.  And some of you may disagree and that is OK.

Church, in many places of brick and mortar Christendom, we have turned the inerrancy of Scripture into an idol.   We trust more in our various interpretations of a book deemed inerrant, than we do in the leading of the Spirit of the One Who inspired it.  In some cases, the Bible is virtually elevated to the third person of the Trinity.  Father, Son & Holy Bible.

Now please hear me out friends.  I am not saying the Bible is not important, inspired, or deserving of our attention.  I am not saying it isn’t given as a light to our journey.  It most assuredly is.

But it is given to reveal God, not to contain Him.

And while the Bible includes the words of God (the prophecies, the words Jesus spoke when He walked the earth for instance), Jesus alone is the Word of God.  We can never hope to correctly understand, interpret and apply the written word without an ongoing, deepening relationship with Him Who is the Living Word. 

We must interpret the written word though the character and person of Who Jesus is as the Living Word.

Why do I call inerrancy idolatry?  Anything we elevate above Who God is, that obstructs or subverts or distorts our view of Him, anything apart from Him that supersedes Him is, in short, an idol.

Idolatry is opposite of intimacy.  Idolatry bows before a form of an image of “god” and robs us of relationship with Who God really is, the very relationship for which we have been created.

The English Bible translations I read are far from inerrant.  There are factual discrepancies and conflicting details.  Some versions are more accurate than others.  Anyone who has ever learned another language and tried to translate concepts from one language and cultural context into another, knows that translation is as much art as it is an inexact science. 

All translation is ultimately interpretation.  We cannot divorce who we are from the process no matter how precise and removed we attempt to be.  The English versions we read reflect the worldviews, theologies, lexical schools of thought and bias of the translators who created them.

Far from weakening Scripture, that reality is beautiful.  It reflects the ongoing, unfolding dance of relationship with the living Word Himself, Jesus.  It allows Scripture to inspire and show us more about God’s heart, as well as our own.  It gives space for honest questions and grace for agreeing to disagree while still being in community.

What about right and wrong, truth and deception?  I hear you.  I know this pushes the black and white we are so comfortable with into shades of nuanced tonality.  It shifts the question from “who’s right” to “how are we related”.   It leads us away from leaning into our own control and our own understanding, to trusting in Holy Spirit, Who is our Teacher.  It makes space for being, not-knowing and not having to figure everything out.

Some of the arguably most dedicated, well-trained, fundamental, religious leaders of Jesus’ day missed Him.  They not only failed to see Him as He was, they crucified Him for not coming in the form they expected.

Having the law and the prophets, the right doctrinal education, careful systems and organizational accolades did nothing to keep the religious leaders of Jesus’ day from missing the living breathing incarnation of the God they worshiped Who was walking in their midst.

Beloved, at its deepest, holiest reality Truth is not a debate platform.  Or a doctrinal position.  Or a political party.  Truth is a Person.  And that Person is Jesus.

When He becomes the lens through which we interact with Scripture, everything else finds it place.  May we live lightly, inscribed by His love and carried by His grace.

On Four Letter Words

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I’ll be honest.  My vocabulary has been reduced to a lot of four-letter words lately.  If you’ve been here any length of time, or decide to stay a while, you’ll find authenticity is top of my list when it comes to core values.  Messy, raw, uncomfortable authentic is all I have energy for these days. 

Finding words is a battle.  I should say, finding the right words is a battle.  Many times a day I want to scream and rail at the buzz and fluff in my head.  Give me my words and my brain back, dang it!

Weird brain injury side effect. Apparently I know more “adult adjectives” of the four-lettered variety than I realized.  I’m not sure changing a few letters to make them more polite really makes a ‘forking’ difference.  Not to Jesus at least.  I try to keep it in check mostly for the other folks around me who don’t already know my heart.

God is not surprised or uptight about where we are at friends.  He can take our messy, edgy selves with any and all of our four-letter emphatics that slip through the cracks of our pain and frustration.  Instead of push us away, He enfolds us with some four-lettered words of His own.

Kind.  More.  Near.  Safe.  Rest.  Just.  Able.  Good.  Hope.  True.  Sure.  Real.  Pure.  Wise.  Calm. With. Same.  Free.  Life.  Here.  Love.

He is all these four-lettered things.  Kinder than we conceive. More than enough. Near to our need.  Safe enough to trust.  Rest when we are weary.  Just and able and good.  Hope when we want to give up.  True, sure and real.  Pure strength to our weakness.  Wise in ways we don’t understand. Calm in the middle of chaos.  With us every step we take.  The same; unwavering in grace for us every moment, every day.  Free to enjoy us right where we are at.  Life in the face of loss.  Here even when everyone else disappears.  Love that never leaves, wavers or fails.

So maybe having a few more four-letters words in my vernacular is not a bad thing after all. 😉